Are we not like two volumes of one book?
I’m reading Beverly Cleary’s Ramona Quimby book series aloud with my eight-year-old daughter. She devours every word, because she relates to Ramona in many ways. When I was her age, I read these books to a point of almost-memorization. Reading them again, now, feels familiar to the point of creepy—in the most marvelous way.
We’re reading Ramona Quimby, Age 8 now. This book was published in 1981, but it certainly doesn’t feel almost 40 years old. Especially when we got to my favorite part—where something wonderful happens to Ramona at school.
Ramona’s third-grade teacher, Mrs. Whaley, announces to the class that they will henceforth have daily silent reading. The class can’t believe their good fortune. “Even mysteries?” asks one child. Another suspicious child quickly clears up any possibility of a follow-up book report. Mrs. Whaley reassures them. It’s just reading.
Ramona is thrilled. How peaceful it was to be left alone in school. She could read without trying to hide her book under her desk or behind a bigger book. She was not expected to write lists of words she did not know, so she could figure them out by skipping and guessing. Mrs. Whaley did not expect the class to write summaries of what they read either, so she did not have to choose easy books to make sure she would get her summary right… Yes, Sustained Silent Reading was the best part of the day.
My daughter stopped me by clutching my wrist. “Yessssss! I love the time we get to read in school,” she said. “It is the best part of the day. It’s 45 minutes we get to just read. We can relax and just enjoy our books.” Love. Read. Relax. Enjoy. Books.
I blinked. I remember having that same connection to Ramona’s happiness, way back when. The best part of school for many kids is the time to read books that are just right, with no pressure or arduous tasks accompanying the reading. Year after year, it is still the same and I bet it will be for a long, long time.
This week we look at resources for teaching poetry. Plus more as always — enjoy!
Contributor, Choice Literacy
Long an avid reader, Jennifer Schwanke taught middle school language arts for six years before moving into administration at both the middle school and elementary level. Jen enjoys thinking of more effective ways to present literacy to students at these vulnerable ages. You can find her latest thinking at her Leading and Learning blog.
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Mandy Robek finds quick poetry read-alouds are a great way to transition between activities in her second-grade classroom and build a love of poems:
Tara Smith realizes that the 20 minutes she spends on poetry reading, analysis, and response in her sixth-grade classroom each week pay dividends all year long:
Dina Bolan discovers mixing poetry and nonfiction is a wonderful way to energize student interest in writing notebooks:
Mandy Robek shares her top 10 nonfiction poetry picks for children:
Michelle Barnes has compiled tips from teachers and poets for poetry instruction as part of a Poetry Friday roundup:
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April is a month-long “thanksgiving” for those of us who love poetry. Shirl McPhillips shares her favorite resources for sharing that love with students:
In this week’s video, Linda Karamatic explores poetry with her second graders. She displays poems students have written and teaches them about fresh language using a poem about a pencil sharpener:
Gretchen Schroeder uses online videos as resources to teach her high school students to appreciate spoken-word poetry and write their own:
In an encore video, Christy Rush-Levine uses the poem “Old Age Sticks” in a choral reading and discussion with her middle school students:
That’s all for this week!